Living in a country that feels irrevocably divided – morally, politically, systemically – during a pandemic has a way of casting a pall on a holiday focused on giving thanks.
But acknowledging the things for which you should be grateful is not only the point of Thanksgiving, but could actually help you feel better the rest of the year, too.
According to Harvard Health, gratitude has a positive impact on overall happiness. That makes sense: You focus on why you’re thankful, and in turn feel more contentment. In thinking about the good, toxic emotions such as envy, resentment and regret fall by the wayside.
There has been a correlation between gratitude and a decrease in depression, too. In fact, a 2006 study in Behavior Research and Therapy determined Vietnam War veterans experienced lower rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder when they exhibited higher levels of gratitude.
Some lesser-known benefits? Studies have shown grateful people sleep better, have improved physical health and even higher self-esteem.
There doesn’t seem to be a downside to being thankful. Regardless, it’s easier said than done. So how do we get there, especially during such an uncertain and tumultuous time?
One thing to remember is that you do have reasons to be thankful: You just have to take the time to figure out what they are. Talk it through with family and friends. Write in a journal. Meditate. Do what you need to do to focus on the positive.
As Epworth United Methodist Church Pastor Charlie Soper said when discussing the Triboro Clergy Association’s virtual Thanksgiving service, we all have blessings. Sometimes people just need to step back to see the good things happening all around.